What does it mean to be a Christian? It’s important to understand what it means for any of the work you do in church communications to make sense. Below are some verses about how the Bible defines what being a Christian means and then I’d like to share a way to explain it that I’ve found helpful.
Here are some Bible verses about what it means to be a Christian:
And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. So whoever has God’s Son has life; whoever does not have his Son does not have life (1 John 5:11, 12 NLT).
Not all people who sound religious are really godly. They may refer to me as ‘Lord,’ but they still won’t enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The decisive issue is whether they obey my Father in heaven. On judgment day many will tell me, “Lord, Lord, we prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.” But I will reply, “I never knew you. Go away”
(Matt. 7:21-23 NLT).
These two passages and many others are pretty clear that to be a Christian means knowing Jesus. Church communications is ultimately and at its core communication about Jesus. Unlike other kinds of communication work, you will have a hard time doing church communications work if you don’t know Jesus. Knowing him, listening to our shepherd’s voice, is essential if our work is to pass the test of eternal value and to be bearable as we do it day-by-day. But how can we be sure if we have this kind of relationship with Jesus? How can we know if we really know him?
Please now, take a few minutes by yourself, without distractions, to read this section and think about it.
One way to look at your relationship with Jesus
Evangelists in the past used a term that we don’t often hear today when they would ask, “Have you closed with Christ?” Their use of the term “closed” was taken from real estate back then and they used it just as we do today. You can look at a house, walk through it, admire it, want it, even invest time in getting a loan on it, but until you “close” on it, the house is not yours.
What happens when you close? On closing, only then does the house then becomes truly, legally yours. For that closing to take place, you have to give up something, usually a considerable amount of money, and you have to make a commitment to keep investing in the house for it to one day be yours completely.
No analogy is ever perfect, but this is a pretty good one to explain what it means to know Jesus personally. You can look at Jesus from far away, you can even get up close, perhaps visiting or regularly attending a church to look at his teachings. You might even work at a church and do communications work in his name. But unless a personal transaction takes place, unless you know Jesus personally and he knows you, you haven’t “closed” with him.
That act of closing with Jesus is a serious commitment. That closing takes place between you and God, in prayer where you admit your sins have kept you from God and you recognize that Jesus death on the cross paid a penalty for those sins that you could not, and you ask that Jesus become the forgiver and leader of your life.
The cost of the transaction
If you do that you have closed with Jesus and you move into an eternal relationship with him. Though there is no monetary cost to this transaction meaning there is nothing you can do to earn or deserve a relationship with Jesus, at the same time before making that closing transaction, the Bible does urge you to count to the life cost. The Bible is clear that the cost involved in closing with Jesus is that you now turn over the control of your life to Him: your priorities, your time, your focus, your decisions are now all to be under the leadership of Jesus. You aren’t asked to make monthly payments (though giving regularly to your church and those in need is an expectation of all Christians), but you are required to give up your time regularly in the study of God’s Word, in prayer, and in service to your world in the name of Jesus. In return the Christian receives much more than an earthly house that will deteriorate. The Christian is promised an eternal home in heaven and on earth peace, strength, and joy for whatever life God gives.
I’m bringing this up because, because as I’ve said earlier, doing Christian communication work is one of the hardest jobs imaginable and to last in it, you need every resource available in Jesus. You have to have a personal relationship with Jesus for his strength to flow through you to do this work; you must be on good terms with him to do it happily. Our relationship with our God is personal-more than a theology or belief system or set of rules-one with much more, but no less than the personal qualities of a relationship with an earthly friend.
If you have not closed with Jesus, count the cost of following him and if you are ready to commit your life to him, close with Jesus by praying the prayer that follows.
A prayer of “closing” with Jesus
I admit that though I’ve known about you for a long time, I’ve kept you at arm’s distance. I don’t want to do that anymore. I admit that I need forgiveness for things I have done. I realize that in coming to you I acknowledging that you died on the cross to pay the penalty for my sins and I want you to come into my life and be my forgiver and leader. I realize that in doing this I turn over the control of my life and eternity to you and I pray you’d help me to live a life that is worthy of you. Thank you for your salvation and for being willing to have a personal relationship with me for all eternity. Amen.
If you sincerely prayed that prayer, welcome to the family of God! More than ever before you will have Jesus beside you as you do your work for him. Be sure to read your Bible every day and go to a church that preaches the Bible and you will grow and experience the reality of a friendship that will never end.
Evaluate your ongoing relationship with Jesus
If you are in a relationship with him, how is it? We take time to test our human relationships and it is very important to give time and attention to our relationship with Jesus. Is it the happy, peaceful time you want it to be? Is a bit of resentment festering? Talk about it to Jesus. Is there sadness inside you that you don’t feel will ever end? Share it. Have you forgotten to be thankful for the blessings of food and shelter that so many of our brothers and sisters around the world are without? Catch up on your thanks. Do you forget he wants to help you in every detail of your life? Invite him to share this moment.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” the apostle Paul said (Phil 4:13, KJV). Now that your relationship is right with Jesus, charge into your day, doing your work in church communication in his strength.
Altered slightly, this is taken from The Heart of Church Communication by Yvon Prehn, available as a download and as a paperback book from www.lulu.com/yvonprehn.